RAAF's No. 77 Squadron has taken to the skies in an impressive ‘double-seven’ formation to commemorate 77 years of operations.  

Made up of 16 F/A-18A Classic Hornets, the formation flew over the communities surrounding RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley earlier this month. The region has been home to the squadron for more than 60 years.

No. 77's Hornets fly over Newcastle. Photo: Corporal Craig Barrett.

The formation is historically significant as it was last flown by the unit in 1955 as part of a welcome home tour at the end of the Korean War. At the time, the Squadron (operating Gloster Meteor jet aircraft) had spent more than 11 years operating overseas.

77 Squadron’s commanding officer, Wing Commander Jason Easthope, said he was proud to lead the formation.

“These type of activities play an important role in acknowledging the unit’s proud history, upholding its rich legacy and honouring the sacrifices our squadron has made,” Wing Commander Easthope said.

“77 Squadron is a front line operational fighter squadron, which has a rich history supporting campaigns in the South Pacific, Korea, Malaysia and, most recently, in Iraq.”

A bird's-eye view of the region for No. 77's Hornets. Photo: Corporal Craig Barrett

It is unlikely the Squadron will get the opportunity to fly the Classic Hornet in that formation again with the squadron commencing the transition to the F-35A in 2020.  

“We are nearing the end of an era … in 18 months, 77 Squadron will cease Classic Hornet operations and transition to the F-35.

“The Hornet has served Australia well over the years and this commemorative fly-past is also part of acknowledging that.”

The RAAF fleet of F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets are scheduled to be gradually replaced by the F-35A. The final Classic Hornets will be withdrawn from service in December 2021.